I love hosting parties, large and small, and have never bought into the idea that hosting has to be complicated or overwhelming. I love applying minimalist principles to party planning (clarify what’s important, ditch the rest) and I’m sharing my top tips below so you can take the stress out of your next event.
When planning any kind of party or event, I always decide on the menu first. I’m not much of a home chef, so this often means chatting with my husband about what I want him to cook (ha!), ordering food from a local restaurant or catering company, or just making a list of cheeses, charcuteries, and little bites (mainly from Trader Joes!). When we throw larger parties we make sure to put out lots of food that we don’t have to worry about refilling or reheating. My favorites are huge platters of cheese, fruit, charcuterie, and crudités, coupled with sweet bites like merengues, mini cookies, chocolate almonds, and kettle corn. We also order pizza from our favorite local bakery, and cut the pies into small squares, sprinkle with Italian parsley and a drizzle of olive oil and display on large wooden boards. So easy and such a crowd pleaser!
No surprise here, but I don’t get fancy when it comes to decor. During the winter holidays I put up a pretty white snowflake garland coupled with some white votive candles, and large bouquets of fresh-cut greenery. The rest of the year, I just do a few bouquets of seasonal flowers, and maybe a garland and some paper confetti for birthday celebrations.
Set the Mood
I have a theory that music and lighting change everything. Have you ever been to a party where all the lights are all on and there’s no music? A solid recipe for human awkwardness at its finest! For evening parties and gatherings, I keep the lighting dim and the music low, so people can chat. I always love eating by candlelight, and we don’t get fancy with tablescapes or elaborate decor. Just consider the mood you want to create for your guests, and add a few thoughtful details.
Waste Not, Want Not!
Parties can create a lot of waste, so we’ve made a few simple changes to be more sustainable. I invested in a couple dozen small tumblers that can be used for wine, water, or cocktails, that we store year round in our dining room cabinets. We use ceramic plates, bowls, and serving platters for party food, and focus on non-fussy finger foods and casual bites. For large parties and kid-centered events we use compostable plates, forks, and napkins. I also make sure to set out a few oversized baskets lined with compostable bags so at the end of the party we can just toss everything into our green bin. Zero waste and zero plastic!
Keep It Simple
The truth is that the best parties I’ve been to aren’t the most fancy or elaborate, they’re just the most thoughtful. As long as you make sure your guests feel welcome in your home, and provide something good to eat, drink and chat about, your gathering will be a success. No one actually cares if your home is a little messy, or if you ordered food or slaved over a hot stove for hours. Kettle corn, potato chips, some bubbly, and good conversation go a long way in my book. So, kick that inner perfectionist to the curb, and let’s party.
How do you simplify your holiday entertaining? Please share in the comments below.
Photography Credit: Vivian Johnson
10 comments on “Party Like a Minimalist”
As a professional event planner, I love simplifying and streamlining wherever possible, even more so if I entertain personally.
Minimizing options leads to reduced waste. I typically serve 1 red, 1 white and 1 sparkling option for wine. Like you, I have a few dozen stemless wine glasses that work for water, wine, cocktails, etc. They are dishwasher friendly and make cleanup a breeze! Stemless glasses also seem to last longer and don’t break as readily.
I also will often host events that make it clear I’m not providing a full meal. For a recent bridal shower, we hosted at 2:00PM and stated on the invitation it was for ‘cake and champagne’. We of course had a few extras, but this set the tone for our guests to know it was more about time together than an elaborate (and expensive) spread of food and drink.
Another tip- if you buy extra wine/drinks that remain unopened from Trader Joe’s or Costco, you can return the leftovers. I always overbuy to avoid running out mid-party, but don’t have to worry about waste or storing any leftovers.
Fantastic tips, thanks for sharing!
Love this. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend Priya Parker’s book “The Art of Gathering.”
Ooh, ordering now!
Thanks for these tips. I love that white vase! If you don’t mind sharing, where is it from?
Old from CB2 but maybe you can still track it down! x
Can you tell more about the compostable bags and green bins? What is this? I have been a student of/enthusiast of zero waste for years, but I don’t know what this is? It’s just for compost or you can put any kind of food in it or…what is it? Disclaimer: I live in rural Texas and when I have visited places like the SFO airport, I feel like I’m in outer space. 😜😆 Teach me!
Greetings from outer space! I guess I’m lucky enough to live in a place that makes it very easy to be green. We have the option of paying a small monthly fee to have municipal green bins where we can dispose of food scraps, paper, coffee grounds, pizza boxes etc. The city picks up the scraps each week for composting. We use brown paper bags or green bags for this items since they are biodegradable unlike plastic bags. Hope this helps! x
Hi Shira! Lovely ideas.. so many podcasts on Priyah- I remember Brene Briwn doing a double episode in her..
Question? Do y have a link for the dark brown bottles you use in the bathroom for shampoo etc? Something that stands the rest of time..
Found them on Etsy a while back but you can use any glass bottles with pumps you like and add your own labels! x